tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC August 5, 2009 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT
republicans including senator johnny isaacson of georgia. and having a living will where you say how it is you'd like decisions to be handled at the end of your life, where you make your own decisions about that ahead of time, that is something the federal government has formally encouraged by legislation for at least 20 years. without controversy. but politically the facts don't really matter right? not if they can be distorted to scare people particularly if they can be distorted to scare old people. it's becoming clear now that there is a connection between the two big things we have observed recently about the health care fight. on the one hand are these crazy, disprovable, but nevertheless endlessly stoked conspiracy theories that health care reform is communism, a secret plot to kill your grandpa, it's a government takeover, it's something called obama-care. it's going to mandate abortions. it's going to mandate sex change operations. i would make up something that could be the next crazy thing but everything i could think of
that is that crazy has already been actually used by these people. there are these crazy conspiracy theories about health care reform on the one hand. and on the other hand there are these organized efforts to shut down political debate about health care by using angry crowds to take over town hall meetings and chase congressmen through parking lots. these two observable facts about the antihealth care reform forces, it turns out, are really one big thing. do yourself a favor if you have a moment and you're online and go to the website recess rally.com. it's a very nice website. very slick. got a big stop sign right there in the middle above the list of all the town hall rallies they expect you to go to and disrupt. the tag line up there you can see is we the people say no to socialized health care. we the people. that's how the republican party has been describing these town hall takeovers, too. putting out a statement today saying democrats should stop being so upset about them.
quote, what democrats call mob rule, the average american calls democracy. these kinds of despicable characterizations of middle class americans smacks of elitism. the republican party says the town hall takeovers, the intimidation we've been seeing, these are just average middle class americans spontaneously expressing their feelings. conveniently, the average middle class american is bringing you recess rally.com are actually listed at the bottom of that website. if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you can see there, national coalition of sponsors. there's michelle malkin one of the people on fox news, smart girl politics. that sounds actually nice. red state. those are fairly recommend ogg nooizable or of interest but who are all the other groups? here is one called american majority. hum. the average middle class americans behind american majority include the
organization's president ned ryan a former speechwriter for george w. bush. the executive director of the -- executive director of the kansas office would be a former republican state legislator, executive director of their oklahoma office, a former washington d.c. conservative lobbyist. you know, just your average middle class americans. that organization, american majority, is an offshoot of another recess rally sponsor which is called the sam adams alliance. don't get your hopes up. it's not about beer. the president of the sam adams alliance is the former executive director of the illinois state republican party. sam adams alliance is also led by a former dow chemicals engineer who is also president of the nation's largest conservative state level policy think tank. just your average middle class americans concerned about health care. who else have we got behind the recess rallies? another one, called let freedom
ring. that sounds nice. the founder of that group is the money man behind the super offensive tv ads from the last election cycle that exploited the burning wreckage of 9/11 to help promote the iraq war. one of the other groups that's been promoting the town hall meeting sites and bragging about shutting them down also happens to be the same group that brought us the swift boat ads that attacked veteran john kerry's war record. these are just totally disinterested, average middle class americans, very grass roots. here is another one. maybe the most illustrative of all. it's a group organizing the recess rallies called americans for prosperity. they've not only represented themselves as americans for prosperity here. they also are listed on the recess rally.com page under the name of their own subsidiary, patients first. now, who is americans for prosperity? well, the director of americans for prosperity is a man named art pope. art pope. art pope. why does that name sound
familiar? oh, right! that's the headquarters of the north carolina republican party. that building is named after art pope because art pope is a multi-millionaire far right activist who has given the republican party in north carolina so much money over the years they could think of no grander gesture than to name their headquarters building after him. you know, just like other average middle class americans. the national chairman of americans for prosperity is the 19th richest man in the world. a man named david koch. he and his brother run koch industries, the largest privately held oil company in this country and prolific founders of far right wing causes. they're just your average middle class americans. who also happen to be the 19th richest man in the world. americans for prosperity in turn runs a group called patients united now and patients first. these groups are currently busing people across the country to, you guessed it, demonstrate against health care reform. this is what these groups do.
they're experts at fake grass roots campaigns that promote corporate interests. americans for prosperity is the group that got antistimulus rallies going earlier this year and also organized the hot air tour, a campaign against the whole idea of global warming. they were the ones who sent joe the plumber around the country to rail against the employee free choice act which is pro labor legislation. this oil industry and republican operative millionaire's club is according to the republican party spokesman today just average, middle class americans. just regular american folks sitting around the kitchen table thinking about whether they can get away with saying that the government continuing its long standing policy of encouraging living wills is really a secret plot to kill old people. one other thing about americans for prosperity. their most visible spokesman is a man named tim philips. he is the president of the organization and we've asked him to come on the show to talk with us about the group. tim phillips got his start in fake grass roots at a firm
called century strategies run by ralph reid. century strategies is famous for having duped christian groups into lobbying for energy deregulation. you know, like the bible said. they were doing that at the behest of century strategies client enron. tim phillips and ralph reid were made even more famous in the jack abe ramoff scandal for duping christian groups into lobbying against gambling but only where they happen to have competing gambling interests as clients. these guys are the pros. this is an industry. americans are showing up at these events to shout down the discussion and to chase their congressmen and they are enraged. and they're enraged at least in part because they're being riled up by over the top, fabricated conspiracy theories about health care. and they're being directed and orchestrated by the corporate interests that do this for a living and do it very well. recess rally.com is not some organic outgrowth of american anger. this is how corporate america creates the illusion of a grass roots movement to support their
own interests. this is what they do. they are professionals. this is an industry. to talk about these town hall events as some organic outpouring of average american folks who have concerns about health care is to be willfully blind as to what is really going on which is professional pr operatives generating exploitive, manufactured, strategically deployed outrage in order to line their own pockets. these pr spin meisters get paid a lot of money for doing it. the corporations they work for get to kill legislation that would hurt their profits. the real people who they launch into these town hall settings after they're told that health care reform is a secret commie plot to kill old people and mandate sex changes, those real people get more and more and more angry and more and more and more alienated. and ultimately they get left like the rest of us with a health care system that is broken and doesn't work in the interests of the american people but does work in the interests of the corporations that profit from the way the system is now.
this is professional, corporate funded republican staffed pr. it should be reported as sufrp. hi, may i help you? we're shopping for car insurance, and our fries said we should start here. good friends -- we compare our progressive direct rates, apples to apples, against other top companies, to help you get the best price. how do you do that? with a touch of this button. can i try that? [ chuckles ] wow! good luck getting your remote back. it's all right -- i love this channel. shopping less and saving more. now, that's progressive. call or click today.
i switched to complete multivitamin with more. only one a day women's 50+ advantage... has gingko for memory and concentration... plus support for bone and breast health. just what i need. one a day women's. this is my verizon small business specialist, tom. now, i know the catering business but when i walked in here i wasn't sure what i needed. i'm not sure what i need. tom showed me how to use mifi
protection from the angry mobs. while this hooliganism has grabbed all the attention recently and understandably so pro health care reform forces are also spending lots of money and doing lots of organizing trying to bring attention to their side of the debate. now it is the awkward truth in washington today of course that republicans just aren't that relevant to policy outcomes, to what passes in either house of congress. they got really, really, really badly trounced in the last election and therefore they are now a really, really, really small minority in both houses of congress, so republicans don't matter that much. that means that even the pro health care reform forces are targeting democrats. conservative democrats. whether it's because conservatives are sympathetic to insurance or drug or medical supply companies or simply ideologically opposed to health care reform conservative democratic senators like ben nelson of nebraska have cast
themselves as swing voters on health care the ones who will make or break the chance at reform. accordingly here is an ad being run right now by two progressive groups, both in d.c. and in senator nelson's home state of nebraska. >> for six years i've owned the syzzlyn skillet in nebraska. last week my health insurance agent called and told me my rates wog up 42% from last year. i can't afford that. i told him i may have to cancel the coverage. i'll just pray my kids won't get sick. when president obama proposes a public health insurance option that would force the private insurers to compete at lower rates that is exactly what my family needs. now i hear ben nelson the senator i voted for is leading the charge to delay health reform this summer. that's exactly what they want. the health and insurance companies that have given senator nelson over $2 million know that if they can stall reform they can kill it. i have to ask, senator, whose
side are you on? if you're on my side stay at work. my family can't wait for reform. >> definitely not as scary as shutting down a town hall meeting with a screaming tantrum. it's also not without substance. what happened after this ad went up in nebraska may be the real story here. senator nelson called michael schneider owner of the syzllyn skillet and star of the ad running against him. mr. schneider joins us now from omaha after graciously allowing our staff to pester him through the lunch rush at his restaurant. mr. schneider, thanks very much for joining us here tonight. >> thanks for having me, rachel. >> i know that you supported senator nelson politically in the past. you voted for him. what moved you to do this ad? i don't imagine it was an easy decision. >> you mean besides the fact that my insurance rates went up 42%? that was one of the major motivations.
and the second motivation was the fact that it looked like we were starting to make some progress and senator nelson decided he was going to stand up and slow the process down. i thought we were going to go someplace. >> after the ad was released i understand that senator nelson called you personally. how did that conversation go? did he make you feel any differently about anything that you said in the ad? >> he didn't change my mind. we basically had a debate on the telephone. i think he -- i don't know what the purpose of him calling me was other than the fact i think the ad kind of got his attention. and he felt like he had to call me. and he did. but what he did was he started telling me his side of the story which is fine. there's always supposed to be two sides of a debate. but he was telling me how bad the public option would be while
trying to tell me at the same time that he supported it. and it just didn't -- it was a tough conversation to have but i had it with him. >> people who are opposed to health care reform often cite small business owners such as yourself as potential victims of any change to the system. so when you talked to senator nelson, just talking right now, what is your perspective as a small businessman on whether or not health care reform would be a help to you in your business? why is it so important to you? >> well, it's important to me number one because my premium is almost as much as it costs me to put a roof over my head. that's one of the main reasons i'm concerned about it. number two, as a small business person, i don't -- that argument doesn't make any sense to me because if health care costs come down it's going to benefit small business people. it has to. and it's, actually if they come down, smaller businesses are going to be able to offer health
care to their employees. so, you know, that's a fake argument. >> yeah. i think what you just articulated there is the big idea and just punctured a lot of people's balloons with the myths they've been hearing about this. let me ask you one last thing about how this has all gone down. after the ad ran and presumably after senator nelson spoke to you he put out a statement that said if this is an indication of the politics going into august, health care reform might be dead by the end of august. the groups paying to run this ad that features you then announced that they would triple the amount of money they're spending to run the ad. they're both sort of raising the stakes on one another. what do you make of the way this is being fought out? do you feel it's constructive? how do you feel about it? >> i'll tell you exactly how i feel about it. i think my position represents the democratic wing of the democratic party. barack obama was elected in this
country and under his platform was to get health care done and i think we need to get it done. >> michael snider is the owner of the syzzlin skillet restaurant in ralston, nebraska. i don't know if i'll ever get to ralston, nebraska but if i do i'll leave a really large tip when i eat at your restaurant. i appreciate you being on the show. good luck to you sir. >> thank you. >> all right. vladimir putin keeps taking his shirt off in front of camera crews. he keeps doing that. now for the first time he has timed his semiannual strip off for the cameras to coincide with news his country has also sent nuclear powered submarines to hover off the american east coast. that's so many different types of creepy all at once that it stretches the definition of the word creepy. stay with us. taking its rightful place
this is crazy. you. let's run a free upgrade check. see if you're due for a new smartphone. don't i need to go to my carrier's store for that? no, you don't have to. we sell phones and plans on all the major networks. ok. well, is te travel possible? yes, i am from the future. announcer: phones, plans, and advice from thousands of people eager to help. this is humiliating. stand still so we can get an accurate reading. okay...um...eighteen pounds and a smidge. a smidge? y'know, there's really no need to weigh packages under 70 pounds. with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service, if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. cool. you know this scale is off by a good 7, 8 pounds. maybe five. priority mail flat rate boxes only from the postal service. a simpler way to ship.
still ahead, those little lumps of coal that sang christmas carols this year? they're back with an argument i'm nominating for this year's single most jaw-dropping argument made about an american political issue with a straight face. when i first read this i thought it was something from the onion. stay with us. first, it's time for a few holy mackerel stories in today's news. after weeks of protests in the streets, defiant crowds, shocking police and paramilitary
violence against civilians, and the american people showing a huge amount of uncynical interest in an international news story that really wasn't at all about us, today was finally inauguration day in iran. mahmoud ahmadinejad, who the government says was re-elected in the elections held june 12th, was sworn in to office for another presidential term today. under heavy security and asphyxiating restrictions on reporting, we're not able to give you much more detail on the protests of the inauguration today other than to say that we know that protests happened. we know that because as has been true from the beginning of the antigovernment uprising in iran ordinary iranians are documenting their demonstrations themselves and then e-mailing them out of the country or uploading them online so the world will know what they're doing even if reporters aren't actually allowed to commit journalism inside iran anymore. i do want to show you one quick clip that was picked up by "the new york times" today just about 20 seconds long.
these 20 seconds of tape i think are worth many more than a thousand words in terms of what's really going on. the tape starts with a newspaper being held up to the camera and i don't read farsi but i think it's so you can see it's being shot today. i think it's today's newspaper. check it out. [ chanting ] >> you can see the people marching and also holding up cameras and phones filming at the same time they're marching documenting the protests on their own phones and cameras. what they're chanting at the end there and again my farsi is a little rusty but what i'm told people are chanting at the end is back us up. back us up. brave iranians, back us up. they're calling on bystanders
and maybe even police to stand with them in their ongoing protests against the government. you know the protestors did get a little backup today. two former presidents and dozens of iranian legislators just didn't show up for mahmoud ahmadinejad's inauguration today and a significant number of legislators who did show up walked out as soon as ahmadinejad started talking. he's in trouble. as several of our iran expert guests have told us over the last couple months this thing going on in iran has a very, very long time frame to it. but it appears the uprising lives. we will of course stay tuned. in another story of international news, becoming american news, russia has apparently had two nuclear powered submarines stationed off our coast for the past few days. the u.s. navy has reportedly been using aircraft and ships and underwater sensors to track the russian subs. they're submarines of what nato calls the acula class though in russia they call them the nerpa
submarines. i only bother to spell that out because it might be helpful for googling if you want to find out what nerpa submarines are famous for. they're famous for a bad reason which is when russia was testing one last november 20 russians were killed and 21 more were hospitalized because the fire extinguishing system onboard the sub released a bunch of gas and asphyxiated everyone onboard. now that's the second time i've used asphyxiated in one show which is impressive but, b, that type of accident has been if not par for the course at least way too close to par for the course for the russian navy post ussr. the russian navy has been a disaster, particularly their subs. part of the reason this news about russia having subs off our coast is sending eyebrows so high is because it indicates that russia's navy maybe isn't such a disaster anymore. they at least have figured out how to sail their nerpa subs
without accidently killing everyone onboard with a fire extinguishing system. as far as most defense experts were concerned the russian navy wasn't even capable of operating this far from home. but here they are off the coast showing off. passive-aggressive taunting has become a russian specialty in the last several years. russia has with increasing frequently even flown nuclear capable bombers just along the edge of nato borders. of course nuclear subs and nuclear capable bombers aren't the only powerful weapons russia has in its arsenal. should the occasion arise the mighty nation could also bring out its really big guns, russia's former president and current prime minister vladimir putin held his own sad little gun show this week when he posed for pictures and for a film crew while vacationing in siberia. putin had himself photographed shirtless riding a horse, breaking a stick, fishing, swimming, and doing a particularly menacing version of
the butterfly. so now we know. russia's subs are working again and vladimir putin wishes he had been one of the village people. think about it. cop, construction worker, native american, leather guy, russian. why not? you might as well be. you see, their moisturizer sits on top of skin, almost as if you're wearing it. only new dove deep moisture has nutriummoisture, a breakthrough formula with natural moisturizers... that can nourish deep down. it's the most effective natural nourishment ever. new dove deep moisture with nutriummoisture. superior natural nourishment for your skin. upbeat rock ♪ so i could hear myself myseas a ringtone ♪hone ♪ with nutriummoisture. ♪ who knew the store would go and check my credit score ♪ ♪ now all they let me have is this dinosaur ♪ ♪ hello hello hello can anybody hear me? ♪ ♪ i know i know i know i shoulda gone to ♪
♪ free credit report dot com! ♪ that's where i shoulda gone! coulda got my knowledge on! ♪ ♪ vo: free credit score and report with enrollment in triple advantage. are actually susceptible to irreversible damage. your teeth are no different. everyday acids can cause irreversible loss of enamel. new crest pro-health enamel shield protects against enamel loss by forming a micro-thin shield against acid attack. only crest pro-health toothpastes protect all these areas dentists check most. save your enamel. once it's gone it can be gone for good. new crest pro-health enamel shield. also shield with the rinse. it's real food at the right price! this is the primo stuff. choose one appetizer and two premium entrees. just twenty bucks-every day. start with our spinach and artichoke dip or boneless buffalo wings. then two signature entrees, like our seven ounce house sirloin
the drip, drip, drip of new details continues in the coal industry lobbyists posing as minority groups via the u.s. mail scandal. going to have to get that one an acronym i think. tonight we are following the latest developments about this letters to members of congress which appear to be from legitimate interest groups and constituents but they were actually works of fraud. they were from a lobbying firm working for the coal industry. the extent of the fraud is evident here. you're looking at the letterhead of a local virginia hispanic group which was stolen and then used to fake a constituent letter opposing the climate change bill. as we reported last night that particular letter and a handful of similar forgeries purporting to come from local naacp chapters were sent to the
democratic congressman from virginia whose staff figured out the letters were fake. we now know of at least 12 letters and they didn't all go to this congressman. forged letters were also dispatched to representatives, both democrats of pennsylvania and both of them unlike congressman perielo voted the way the fraudulent letters told them to vote, against the cap and trade bill. her spokesman sent us an statement today that says, quote, to be sure this is an unfortunate incident involving several out of thousands of letters that representative dahlkemper received regarding this important issue. at the end of the day she voted in the interest of the third district of pennsylvania and her constituents. congressman carney's office has had no comment. no comment on whether he knew the letters were fake before he voted against the climate bill. no comment on whether the fake letters influenced his vote. he's just had no comment. nevertheless we are learning more today about the timeline
behind the forgeries. thanks in part to congressman ed markey who is chair of the house select committee on energy independence and global warming. he is investigating these fraudulent letters. congressman markey sent out a letter today addressed not to the lobbying firm responsible for the forgeries and a group that's involved in this kind of shaky strategy but instead sent the letter to america's coalition for clean coal electricity. the group for whom the forger or forgers at bonner and associates were hired to work. this coal industry group has now admitted to knowing that this fraud was being perpetrated by its subcontractor as of june 24th. that's relevant because that's two days before the vote on the climate bill in the house. get the problem here? the coal industry knew what it was paying for, fraud, meant to aid its own cause, but they didn't contact members of congress who received the fraudulent letters before the
vote even though they knew they had been sent. in fact, the coal industry didn't address the fraud at all until the charlottesville, virginia daily progress made it public late last week and kudos to them for the scoop. after the call the public said it was outraged. one part of the lobbying effort might be mail fraud but that isn't their only political strategy. the battle over the climate change isn't over. it just moved to the senate. politico reports today that the coal industry is ready igbavb y barrage of ads to target democrats in their home states during recess, also doing media interviews including have one of their spokesmen make what i believe is the most jaw-dropping argument i have seen anyone make about an american political issue all year with a straight face. his name is joe lucas. he is the spokesman for the coal industry group that we're talking about here and he told the guardian newspaper yesterday
this. quote, i can take you to places in eastern kentucky where community services were hampered because of a lack of flat space to build factories, to build hospitals, even to build schools. in many places mountain top mining if done responsibly allows for land to be developed for community space. you know, it is true. cutting off the tops of mountains does create more flat space. in that horribly hilly part of the world. you know, maybe it's those darned hills that explain why the appalachian marble shooting team has never won a tournament. they're also really bad at billiards. everything is tilty. don't winnians deserve more flatness? their argument. joining us is democratic congressman frank pallone of new jersey who has introduced a bill to restrict coal companies from dumping. thanks for coming on the show. >> thank you. >> let me give you a chance to
respond to the argument that mountain top mining is awesome because it creates more flatness. >> mountain top mining is a disaster and creates pollution and has a negative impact on communities and people's health. it's just a disaster for the environment. >> describe what mountain top removal is. is it really the full scale shearing off of the tops of hills? >> basically they blast the top of the hill if you will and then take the waste and dump it into the stream, you know, rivers or streams nearby, and pollute those streams. >> you bring the valleys up and the peaks down. >> right. and the water is polluted and people drink it or use it for other purposes and it affects them in a negative way. >> do you think that the issue of forged letters and this made up opposition that the coal industry has been caught doing now, do you think that will be enough to interest congress or the justice department to investigate? is it something that could potentially be a criminal matter? >> i think it's possible and i'm
sure they will and they certainly should investigate because we rely, and i think democracy relies on a certain amount of truth that where people are writing to you that they are what they purport to be, and i think it is a form of fraud that should be investigated. >> do you think that this scandal such as it is and i realize there's a lot of scandals competing for attention right now but being caught in this way, while the industry is still aggressively lobbying to kill the climate bill in the senate, does the scandal hurt their chances of getting what they want? >> i think so. first of all, rachel, i should point out that in the climate change bill there were a lot of measures that actually helped the coal industry so i'm not sure i understand, you know, what this was all about and why they were even doing this but i think it hurts their cause. they're no longer credible. >> how credible and how responsible have they been as part of the debate over energy issues over the year? i mean, the reason i keep talking about the clean, this clean coal group is because they keep doing stuff like having
lumps of coal re-record silent night and other like hymns in order to make them songs that are pro coal. i mean, the tactics they've been involved in, to my eye at least what seems to be feigned outrage over the bonner group doing exactly what the bonner group has done over the years famously incomple implies they're not an actor to be trusted. is that how they've been seen in congress? >> no. i don't think they have been seen this way. i think this will hurt them. during the climate change debate they worked very actively to make the case we should do research and invest money for clean coal energy and i think they were actually taken rather seriously so i think this hurts them a lot because it does go against their credibility. >> do you think cap and trade is going to survive the senate? >> i think so. i don't know what form but it is very important and i think that from what we hear the senate is going to take it up in september and october and we're hopeful it'll be a bill that's as strong
as the house bill. >> congressman frank pallone democrat of new jersey, somebody with a lot of interesting coal issues. thanks for joining us. really appreciate it. >> thank you, rachel. today is the last day on the job for man who served as communications director for south carolina governor mark sanford including the whole appalachian trail to argentina period. how will he be spending his first night as not a mark sanford employee? he'll be spending it right here talking to us about why he quit. stay with us. ♪
wellbeing. we're all striving for it. purina cat chow helps you nuture it in your cat... with a full family of excellent nutrition... and helpful resources. ♪ purina cat chow. share a better life. would you like that to hurt now or later? uh-- what? (announcer) pepcid® complete doesn't make you choose. it neutralizes acid in seconds and controls heartburn all day or all night. pepcid® complete , works now and works later.
leigh it didn't look good when then congressman william jefferson of louisiana was found to have wrapped $90,000 cash in tin foil and stuffed it into pie crust containers in his freezer. in related news, it didn't look good and has officially been inducted into the yuf nichl heul of fame. a federal jury found the former nine-term democratic congressman guilty today of conspiring to use that freezer money to bribe
an official from africa. mr. jefferson, seen here accepting a suitcase of soon-to-be genuinely cold cash, was also found guilty of ten other charges including bribery, racketeering and money laundering. prosecutors say he was using his office to broker telecom deals in nigeria, oil concessions in guinea and satellite transmission contracts in botswana among other things. the jury spared mr. jefferson on five of the 16 counts but he still faces up to 150 years in prison and forfeiture payments of nearly $500,000. sentencing is scheduled for october when we will all surely break out with the appropriate puns about freezers and cash and pie crusts once again.
i've been unfaithful to my wife and as a consequence i hurt her. i hurt you all. i hurt my wife. i hurt the boys. i hurt friends like tom davis. i hurt a lot of good folks. and all i can say is that i apologize. >> six weeks ago south carolina governor mark sanford came home after a mysterious six-day disappearance. the governor returned to south carolina much to the relief of his wife, his staff, the citizens of south carolina many of whom were driven nearly to distraction wanting to know where he had been. after all how does an entire state just lose its governor? the strangest of political sex
scandals began on thursday, june 18th when governor sanford told his staff he was going hiking on the appalachian trail. the next three days, friday, saturday, and sunday, father's day came and went with no word from him. rumors ricocheted around south carolina and on monday, june 22nd, mr. sanford's wife jenny told the associated press that she didn't know where he was. she added, quote, he was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids. on father's day. south carolina lawmakers demanded to know where governor sanford had gone and why he hadn't been in touch with his office. governor sanford's communications director joel sawyer told the ap the governor was hiking and released a statement that said this. quote, governor sanford is taking some time away from the office this week to recharge after the stimulus battle and the legislative session and to work on a couple projects that have fallen by the way side. the next day after widespread confusion about mr. sanford's whereabouts mr. sawyer released this statement that said, quote, governor sanford called to check
in with his chief of staff this morning. it would be fair to say the governor was somewhat taken aback by all of the interest this trip has gotten. given the circumstances and the attention this has garnered the governor communicated to us he plans on returning to the office tomorrow. and that's when some of the questions started to get answered. tuesday night the suv governor sanford had taken to go hiking was found at the columbia metropolitan airport with hiking gear inside. on wednesday, june 24th, a reporter for the state newspaper in south carolina tracked down governor sanford at the atlanta airport and broke the news that the governor had just arrived from argentina. when he arrived at the state capitol sanford gave an emotional, honestly rambling press conference that answered some questions and raised some new ones. at the end of that almost 19-minute session? >> are you resigning as governor? joel, is the governor going to resign? >> joel gave his own resignation
three governor going to resign gave his own resignation, and today was his last day on the job as communications director for mark sanford. joining us on the phone is the same joel, joil sawyer, former communications director for the governor. mr. sawyer, thank you very much for joining us. i appreciate it. >> thank you, rachel. i appreciate you having me on. that was a real trip down memory lane there. >> let me start by asking you if you think that was a fair summary of the way things happened over that very difficult time. >> that was the facts. that is what happened. that is why we reported it. that is the way i remember it. >> in listing your statements there, sort of on the time line, i couldn't help but think that, you know, close friends of the governor knew about this affair. his wife knew. his spiritual add adviser knew. he said members of a group in d.c. called c street knew. but you were responsible for communicating the truth about the governor to the people of south carolina and you did not know. and you say things that were not true. how does it make you feel when you hear those statements again
knowing that to be the case? >> well, look, i mean i was disappointed like everyone else but on the staff level, our job was to disseminate information. now after the fact, the information we disseminated was obviously not the case. i was disappointed like everyone else but i plowed through it. i had a job to do. even though i was disappointed with the governor on a personal level, i still did and still even after i left the office believe in the things he's trying to do there. so you just take it day by day and take it as it comes and deal with it as best you can. >> when you said that he was hiking. when you made the statements that you made, had you heard from the governor false information or had you not heard from the governor anything and you were just making those statements up? >> he told us thursday, he told staff on thursday before he left that he was going up to the appalachian trail. either the reason for the gap, frankly, is because we were waiting to see if he was going to check in and update us on a little more precisely where he
was. that didn't happen. so he relayed to us he's on the trail. we need to let press know he's on the trail and that's what we did. as i said, we learned that that was not the case. >> when you made the decision to leave the governor's staff, and i know you have had been with him for a very long time -- >> 6 1/2 years. >> 6 1/2 years and you're a young man. that's a big portion of your adult life working in politics. was part -- did it factor into your decision that he gave you false information to deliver to the people of south carolina, than you looked like -- well, you in fact were not telling the truth, even if it was through no fault of your own? >> well, obviously, that wasn't intentional. i think people i have talked to that i deal with on a day-to-day basis in the press that know me know that we were doing the best job we could with the information we were given. did it factor in? not directly, no. even during this, it was a very difficult decision for me to make because i very much believed in the things that he is trying to do. he was dead right on the
stimulus battle. i believe in what he was trying to do in terms of limiting government, restructuring government, school choice. you go down the list. so from that standpoint on a professional level, it was a tough decision to make. i wasn't out looking for a job. it was someone who approached me with an opportunity. it was something that was going to give me a lot of flexibility in terms of going out and finding additional contracts, identifying additional businesses and i think it's something that will prove to be a good move for me financially and on a perm level as well just in terms of being able to spend more time with my family. >> do you have trouble reconciling the governor's admission of an affair and his decision not to resign with his call in 1998 for president clinton to resign because he was having an affair? >> well, he didn't call for -- excuse me, for president clinton to resign because he was having an affair. he called for president clinton to resign because he lied -- hold on, he lied under oath about having an affair. i think this is different. >> but the governor made an eloquent statement about how the reason president clinton was in trouble is because he had broken the oath of his marriage.
>> and, you know, fair enough. but i think the larger reason, and the reason if you go back and actually look at his votes on the impeachment, it's going back to the larger issue of lying under oath. you know, that's ancient history. i think the governor has asked for forgiveness. and i think that, you know, one of the strongest statements out there was his own wife, you know, who is the real victim in all of this, has said that she's willing to forgive. i think if she's willing to forgive, and if the people like me who were on his staff and have continued to be on his staff are willing to forgive, hopefully the people of south carolina will be able to as well. and i think, frankly, he can have a very productive last 16 months of this session. he's talked a lot about how even though he -- how he believed in these ideas, he may have approached some of them stridently at times and he said himself that he's learned in all of this and going back to the notion of making good from bad to approach the legislature and approach state leaders with a more contrite and humble spirit.
and i think if he follows through on that, you're going to see a very productive last 16 months of his administration. >> joel, you are -- it sounds like you're still on the clock. you're doing a great job defending him. but i do -- >> appreciate that. i believe in him. >> well, i do just have to say, i don't mean to pressure you, and i know you're moving on to things beyond mark sanford, but the hick poypocrisy issue is no ancient history. people are not interested who he's sleeping with. he left the state in a lurch and he lied to you and you had to lie to the people of south carolina on his behalf and he has this huge cloud of hypocrisy hanging over his head because he campaigned for public office in part saying his morals were better than those of people who were having affairs and breaking the oath of their marriage. i think the governor has to consider that. >> i will back up. >> go ahead. >> i think what he campaigned for office on was about lower taxes, smaller government, school choice, restructuring government, more efficient government.
and, you know, in terz of his personal issues, everybody's made mistakes. some mistakes are bigger and worse than others. but i believe in the idea of forgiveness. i think most people in south carolina believe in the idea of forgiveness, too. and hopefully we can look forward and not backward. >> joel sawyer is the former communications director for the south carolina governor mark sanford as of today. joel, good luck with your communications firm. good luck with your future endeavors and thank you very much for taking time to talk with us tonight. >> thank you, rachel. i appreciate you having me. coming up on "countdown" -- new questions about blackwater, including whether the contractor made money off illegal arm sales in iraq.
grill: holy moly!!! what just hap...whoa! grill: i mean...wow! hey! that looks great. grill: and there's no need to discuss it further. in fact, you can buff most of that out. just give it a once-over with a wet paper towel...hee, hee grill: ok, good talking to you... anncr: accidents are bad. anncr: but geico's good. ding! with 24-hour claims service. has the fastest hands boxing has ever seen. so i've come to this ring to see who's faster... on the internet. i'll be using the 3g at&t laptopconnect card. he won't. so i can browse the web faster, email business plans faster. all on the go. i'm bill kurtis and i'm faster than floyd mayweather. (announcer) switch to the nation's fastest 3g network
on tomorrow's show. but right now, it's time for "countdown" with keith olbermann. have a great night. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? mob rule. the leader of the freshman democrats in the house says one congressman has already been physically assaulted by a phony grass roots agitator. when you look at the fervor of some of these people all whipped up by the right wing talking heads on fox to me you're crossing a line said representative jerry connelly of virginia. they are inciting people to riot. in this atmosphere the president is criticizing democratic criticism of the blue dog democrats. and still clinging to bipartisanship. >> i would prefer republicans working with us on this because i think it's in the interest of everybody. >> making a sow's ear out of a
silk purse. conservatives trying to spin the release of euna lee and laura ling into a diplomatic disaster. and limbaugh asks if president clinton hit on them. >> we saw standing before us president bill clinton. >> blackwater continues. more charges against eric prince running a jihad against muslims involved as witnesses against his company and tonight while supposedly protecting americans in iraq illegally dealing arms there. gitmo after threatening, torturing and imprisoning without charge or evidence could the bush administration possibly have sunk lower? yes, they bought fake testimony from witnesses with cash and shoes. the bubble headed bleach blond comes on at 6:00. >> in my home state of minnesota so far only two of these deals have actually been approved by the government. >> that's all. >> close, ms. news actress. 2%. not two. 2%. that would be different. and speaking of minnesota, the